Julep Zora

I’m not usually a “work-appropriate” colors kind of girl – there’s just usually something flashier that catches my eye more – but somehow the mood struck me this week. For whatever reason, I was excited about Julep Fifi (“[t]ea time pink crème”) when it was announced as one of this month’s limited-edition colors. Something about that pale, cool, milk-glass pink just struck me, even though I’d guess there are many pinks like it out there. It didn’t hurt that they marketed it with the word tea. I’d been planning on wearing Fifi this week when it arrived, but because Julep made a shipping error and didn’t send me my Fifi (more on that at the end of the post), I had to find a different color to wear, and I still felt like pale pink.

Luckily, I had Julep Zora sitting around untried. It’s no Fifi (though the reviews on Fifi make me wonder if that might actually be a good thing), but it was as close to my color craving as anything in my current stash could get.

Here’s two coats on the ring and pinky fingers and three coats on the index and middle fingers, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, in outdoor natural light:

Zora is a pale, slightly warm-leaning, ballet-slipper pink with a fine, silvery mica shimmer. The shimmer is pretty subtle, at least on me. I find that you can’t really see it much, like in the sunlit photo above, unless you look fairly closely and in stronger light. Usually, Zora looks to me like a creme, with maybe a hint of frost here and there.

I love the color, but I didn’t so much love the formula. It’s a little thick and doesn’t level well, so getting the polish to look even is a bit of a pain. Some thinner may fix that, but I haven’t tried it, myself. Because of uneven application and some bald spots, I tried three coats on the index and middle fingers, but you probably only need two, if you’re more careful than I was. The brush is flattened, slightly wide, and square-tipped, and it’s easy enough to use, though slightly clumsier for smaller nails. The dry time was a bit above average for me (hence the stupid ding on the middle finger). Overall, the formula could be better, but it’s not unworkable.

Here’s a shot in indoor fluorescent lighting to better show the shimmer texture, which does tend to show brushstrokes. Since it’s so subtle most of the time, though, it’s not really very bothersome.

Back to Fifi: I mentioned in my September 2014 Julep Maven box post that Julep had left Fifi out of my box, presumably by accident, since they didn’t say anything about it. When I contacted customer support, though, the reply I got back minimized their shipping error. It was a passive “we’re sorry to hear [your shipment] was incomplete,” rather than something acknowledging their mistake and communicating that they cared about me as a customer, like, say, “we’re sorry we didn’t ship you everything you ordered, and we’d really like to make it right.” To add insult to injury, I was then told they had run out of Fifi and would not be able to ship me the item they forgot to send me. They could not even guarantee that Fifi would ever become available again. I was offered either a different color or a refund, and that was it.

To be completely honest, I feel a bit slighted. It’s not that I want to demand anything more from Julep; I mean, I’m bursting at the seams with nail polish at all times. I’d just like to be treated like a valued customer, like I’m sure most people would, and I just don’t think this is the right way to respond to a customer when you’ve made an error that damaged that customer’s faith in you. If I were Julep, I’d have offered the alternate color or refund, as well as a nominal something or other just to apologize for 1) the shipping error, and 2) the inability to fulfill the customer’s shipment as ordered and paid for. Isn’t a customer’s goodwill worth that much, at least?

Okay, I’m done venting now.

To end on a lighter note, this is what Zora will always mean to me:

From Zeldapedia. Image source linked.

Zoya Remy & The Lady Varnishes A Center for Ants!?

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a big fan of Zoya’s Ignite collection for this fall. My favorites are Yuna, Remy, and India, in no particular order, though the only one I have so far is Remy.

Here’s Zoya Remy (two coats on the index and middle, one coat on the pinky for reference) and The Lady Varnishes A Center for Ants!? from this past spring’s Really Ridiculously Good Looking collection (three coats), topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, in natural outdoor light:

Remy is a heavily pigmented, deep peacock-blue jelly with dense glass-fleck shimmer that shifts from green to blue. As you can see, there’s not too much difference between applying one coat versus two, and it can maybe be fully opaque in one coat, if you’re careful. I still had some thinner patches at one coat, though, so I put on a second for good measure. I think the extra coat also adds more depth to  this polish, which is even more amazing in person.

I had no problems with the formula, which applied smoothly. The brush is pretty standard, and the dry time seemed average. The Miracle Gel Top Coat did cause some color transfer, even when the polish felt dry to the touch, though.

A Center for Ants!? is a milky, very pale yellow jelly/crelly base with gold shimmer and gold and silver hexes in various sizes – essentially a jelly sandwich in one bottle. It’s beautiful and such a classy color – one of those rare polishes that can be fun and interesting while also looking reasonably professional. I love the subtle effect of the glitters, especially as some of the silver hexes look almost matte white under a layer of the creamy base. The formula is a little thick, and the brush is on the wider and softer side, but I actually didn’t find it difficult to work with. The thicker consistency is great for glitter suspension, and no special glitter placement was necessary. Also, the dry time was pretty fast, which made up for needing three layers for opacity.

No color transfer from the Miracle Gel Top Coat with this one. Woot!

Also? I picked a jasmine scent for this polish, and it smelled wonderful for two days. On the third day, the smell’s fainter, but it’s still there if I sniff up close. :] (Yeah, I really don’t care if someone catches me sniffing my nails. I’m okay with appearing eccentric.)

I couldn’t capture Remy’s full jewel-toned shimmer depth in my photos; it’s much more vibrant in real life, especially in more intense lighting. A Center for Ants!? also has much more visible sparkly gold shimmer.

As per usual, the Miracle Gel Top Coat is holding up amazingly. It’s been three days with virtually no visible wear on either polish. It doesn’t have the glassy, candy-shell thickness of Seche Vite, and it’s got that pesky habit of picking up color when swiped over nail polishes dry to the touch, but it’s otherwise amazing and still my current favorite. Last I checked, it was $9.99 at CVS and can be cheaper if on sale and/or with a coupon. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a new durable fast-dry top coat!

Julep September 2014 Maven Box: The Art Walk Collection, Girl on the Go (with promo codes)

I haven’t gotten a Julep Maven box since June, but I decided to get this month’s box because I had enough Jules to get my box for free this time, and I’m in the market for a good dry shampoo. :] It came in today, wrapped in navy-blue paper crinkles and pearlescent charcoal tissue paper.

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I went with this month’s Girl on the Go box, which included:

  • Dry Clean Invisible Dry Shampoo,
  • Elixir Organic Moroccan Argan Oil,
  • Freedom Polymer Top Coat, and
  • a bonus mystery polish color

The paper inserts included a quote from modern-art master Henri Matisse: “Creativity takes courage.” Good one. They also included two perk promo codes:

  • PLUSHPOUT for 30% off the new Plush Pout Lip Crayons and
  • JULEPPERK for 30% off a Julep order, two uses per customer.

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I also picked up three add-ons, for which Julep promised a surprise beauty freebie:

  • Kirby, a “[s]ilver jagged glitter top coat,”
  • Chloe, a “[w]arm cocoa frost,” and
  • Fifi, a “[t]ea time pink creme.”

To my sadness, though, Fifi wasn’t in my box. I sent off a quick e-mail to customer support and hope they get back to me on that. :(

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I did get some freebie polishes, though. I don’t know which polishes are the “bonus mystery polish color” from the Girl on the Go box, the freebie from ordering three add-ons, and whether one of them is the monthly freebie that usually comes with Julep Maven boxes, but here they are:

  • Candace, a “[g]olden chocolate microglitter,”
  • Eliana, a “[s]oft denim crème,”
  • Daria, a “[d]ark slate grey crème,” and
  • Kendra, an “[a]rmy green frost.”

Daria and Kendra are duplicates for me, which is fine because they’d make great gifts or backups. :]

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You know, I’ve stuck with Julep a long time and am trying not to lose faith in the company, as I know they’re going through some growing pains right now. CEO Jane Park sent out an apology letter on August 19th apologizing for mistakes in orders and such, due to transitioning to a new fulfillment center to ship merchandise:

Hi all,

Things have been a little crazy here at Julep lately. This last quarter has been really exciting for us with the launch of the Plié and an unexpected growth spurt, but I can’t even put in words how much we care about the customer support and shipping challenges we’ve had as a result. It absolutely breaks my heart to think that those of you who’ve been with us from the beginning and know how hard we’ve worked to delight our Mavens could read these recent challenges as us caring less as we grow. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Believe me, I share your passion to have things be different NOW. Frustratingly, sometimes the changes we make for the better in the long term take one or two cycles to get right. So, I wanted to give you a glimpse of what we’re doing behind the scenes to make a difference as quickly as we possibly can…

First, we’ve taken on additional office space and more than doubled our Customer Service team. In addition, although moving our fulfillment to Ohio will ultimately result in faster delivery across the entire country, setting up new processes with new people is never smooth from the get go. I’m incredibly pained by the orders that were shipped late and not right – but I can promise you that we’ve invested many sleepless nights in making it MUCH better next time.

I truly apologize to those of you who were impacted by the outrageously unacceptable hold times as well as delays and errors in shipping. I can promise you that we’re listening, that I am finding the right leaders (like our new Chief Delivery Officer, Dwight Gaston) to own ongoing planning for the future, and that we’re doing everything possible to be able to delight you better every day.

Jane Park
Julep CEO & Founder

As a customer, I certainly appreciate the insight and effort to communicate, but I’m also still disappointed by the much slower shipping, not very responsive customer service, mistakes in orders, and overall recent changes, like increased add-on prices and what I subjectively feel are less exciting monthly collections and mystery boxes. I know it takes time to train new employees and business partners, but given that the letter went out August 19 and the problems have been going on longer than that, I’m taken aback that the problems are still ongoing three weeks later. I think I’m a pretty understanding customer, especially since I’ve had experience running a small business and know how hard it can be, but even I’m starting to feel a little discouraged. :(

I guess I’ll wait and see what customer service says and what October’s selection is like. I loved last October’s collection, and maybe this October’s will convince me to order again.

The Lady Varnishes Now I’m the Bad Guy

I’m still pretty new to collecting indie nail polishes, but, man, are there some amazing indie creations out there.

The Lady Varnishes is an indie brand that I stumbled on while browsing through Etsy, and besides the dazzling array of glittery colors, I was sold by the cute beaded star charms on each bottle and that these lacquers are scented!

Now I’m the Bad Guy was the August’s “Villain of the Month” polish, inspired by Mother Gothel from Disney’s Tangled. Here’s two coats, with one coat Nail-Aid Fast Dry Top Coat, which I’m trying out this week. Outdoor natural light:

It’s possible my bottle of NItBG might be a bit different from the one shown in the shop listing photo, since it’s hand-mixed, but instead of coming out ruby red, mine looks more like a bright rose/fuchsia! I’d been hoping for that deeper ruby red I saw in the listing photo, but this is rather pretty, too. It’s a candy-bright jelly filled with multi-sized gold and iridescent glitters that really glow from inside the translucent base. Lovely.

I don’t have any complaints about the formula, which applied smoothly and didn’t require any fishing or special glitter placement. It’s reasonably opaque in two coats, and I tried three on some nails on my other hand (not shown), which deepened the color very slightly and added another layer of glitter complexity but otherwise didn’t change the look of the polish too much. The brush has a somewhat shorter stem and is a little softer than average, but it’s otherwise pretty standard and easy to use.

NItBG seemed to take slightly longer than average to dry for me. It dries to a nice semi-matte and has that squishy jelly look on its own, but clear top coat really brings out the glitters’ sparkle. I picked the sweet cherry cinnamon scent, and on the second day, I can still smell it pretty strongly. It smells like candy. Yum!

I ordered three other polishes (and got the Stabbington Brothers freebie mini) in the same order, so I’ll be posting swatches of those soon!

UPDATE 9/8/14: Whoops, this one was the cinnamon-scented one, not sweet cherry!

OPI Muir Muir on the Wall, SpaRitual Imagination, and Zoya Magical PixieDust Arlo

This week’s nails were a bit of an experiment because I really wanted to wear Arlo, but I didn’t feel like having so much bling and texture on every finger at the time. The combo turned out looking a bit random, but I think I’m okay with that. :]

In outdoor indirect light, this is:

Ring finger – Zoya Magical PixieDust Arlo ($10 regular*), two coats, no top coat

Other fingers – OPI Muir Muir on the Wall ($9.50 regular*), two coats, with a gradient at the tip in SpaRitual Imagination ($12 regular*), approximately two coats, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

* I pretty much never buy any nail polish at full price and highly recommend bargain hunting and using coupons to get the biggest bang for your buck! Prices based off what I saw at Ulta.

Muir Muir on the Wall (which I’ll call MMOTW for short), from OPI’s San Francisco collection last fall/winter, is a watery, semi-sheer black base densely loaded with burgundy shimmer that shifts from plum to gold in the bottle. The blackened base with shimmer reminds me of the Julep “molten” polishes, like Angela and Blakely, or Wet n Wild MegaLast Under Your Spell. The gold side of the color shift doesn’t show up too much on the nail for me, but sometimes it does look more purple, like in the photo above. At least on me, this polish typically looks like a dark burgundy/plum.

From some angles, MMOTW is pretty dark because of that black base:

MMOTW’s formula is good, and it’s mostly opaque in one coat. The second coat evened out the mild patchiness very nicely. It applied smoothly and had an average dry time. The wide, thick, flattened, and square-tipped OPI brush isn’t my favorite, though. It’s a bit wide for my nails, so I have to turn it a bit sideways to keep from painting onto the skin. Otherwise, I’ve got no complaints.

I’ve posted about Imagination before – it’s a sheer mauve/puce base with dichroic shimmer that shifts from magenta to blue/teal. I probably should have known it’d primarily show up teal or blue over MMOTW, but I hoped that the magenta shift might help echo Arlo’s pinkish purple. It kind of does, sometimes:

The teal/blue shimmer wasn’t what I was going for when I initially painted on the gradient, but it doesn’t look so bad. I love the magical color shift on Imagination, either way. The mauve/puce base tone doesn’t really show because it’s so sheer. No problems with application on this one, either. SpaRitual’s rubberized cap is really easy to hold, and the brush is pretty standard, other than the slightly shorter stem. Imagination also dries pretty fast.

Finally, Arlo, from Zoya’s Magical PixieDust collection this summer, is a polish that I really wanted from the first moment I laid eyes on it. It’s got a cheerful pink-purple jelly base just packed with multi-sized holographic hex glitters and dries to a semi-matte, sugary, translucent texture. The texture’s a bit chunkier than the original PixieDust formula, but it’s much smoother than I expected from its hefty payload of glitters. It’s not nearly as rough or jagged as Essie Belugaria. Still, you’d probably have to be into textured polishes to like this one. I love it. It makes me think of a weird cross of kompeito and druzy. :]

Application is great. Arlo’s got good coverage in two coats (though it’ll still be semi-sheer because it’s a jelly), and no glitter placement or pushing around is needed to get a pretty even distribution of glitter and texture. It also dries super fast. The brush is the standard small, round, flat-tipped brush like other Zoya polishes I’ve tried, but the cap on this collection has a grippier, rubberized, velvety finish. It’s a nice touch, especially since the Magical PixieDust polishes cost $1 more than the typical Zoya.

Anyway, here’s a shot in direct sunlight, outdoors – MMOTW definitely looks less purple and more burgundy here:

I think the combination is growing on me.

Next week or the week after, I may have some indie colors to post up. :] Right now, my indie polish collection is pretty small, but I recently ordered a few that I’m really excited about. Something to look forward to!

Revlon Parfumerie Wintermint & Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Mint Sorbet with Julep Gloria

I’d bought Revlon Parfumerie Wintermint sometime ago and never gotten around to wearing it. Good thing I met up with my sister over the weekend, and she was wearing Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Dream, which reminded me to do that. In fact, for fun, I decided to duplicate her nails, except with similar polishes that I had on hand.

This is Wintermint, two coats, on all fingers, except for the accent nail, which is two coats Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Mint Sorbet and a heart painted on in Julep Gloria, all topped with one coat of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat. Outdoor indirect sunlight:

I’ve heard that Wintermint is pretty close to Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Dream, if not an exact dupe. I don’t own the latter, but here’s a detailed comparison from KittyKam’s Nails.

Wintermint is a frosty minty, seafoamy green base with small marine-blue hex glitters and what looks to my naked eye like holo microglitter. The round Parfumerie bottle cap was a little more awkward for me to hold than the typical cylindrical cap, and the brush stem is a bit shorter than average, but the brush itself is pretty standard: round, flat-tipped, and medium width. The formula is smooth, easy to apply, and reasonably opaque in two coats, with no special glitter placement needed. Despite the glitter, it’s not too bumpy when dry. Dries fast.

By the way, my nails smelled pleasantly minty for all of one evening before the scent was no longer noticeable. That was kind of disappointing, since Autumn Spice kept its smell for maybe a few days. Still, the fragrance is a fun novelty.

Mint Sorbet is a straightforward mint creme and can probably be a one-coater, if you’re careful. I wasn’t, so I smoothed it out with a second coat. This polish also dries fast and has a good formula. The brush is flat, flat-tipped, medium width, and very easy to use.

Gloria is a reddish coral creme, one of Julep’s older colors, I think. I’ve never worn it on its own, so I’m not sure how it’d apply normally, but in my application dotting it in a heart shape, it felt a bit thick and dried almost too quickly. I was getting bald spots and threads of dried polish as I lifted my dotting tool sometimes! The upside is that it was very opaque on the first application.

The heart ended up bleeding a little because, as I mentioned before, Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat tends to melt the polish under it, even when the polish already feels dry to the touch. I guess it’s a risky top coat to use with nail art, though maybe it could’ve worked out better if I’d let the polish dry even longer after it felt dry to me. My right hand (not shown) had more smearing because I top coated it first. Oops.

By the way, Julep’s Plie tool did help me out here. I tried the Plie dotting attachment both with and without the Plie handle, and I think the handle does help with balance. I’m not sure it’s superior to a typical dotter, though, since I haven’t used others.

And, here’s the original manicure that I was imitating. :] My sister used Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Dream instead of Wintermint, Revlon Jaded instead of Mint Sorbet, and Revlon Provoke instead of Gloria:

Can you tell our hands are related?

I was hoping to do a face-off of sorts, comparing her nails to mine in the same photo, but she tells me her nails have already chipped, so I don’t think we’ll be able to do that this time. I’ve got to get her to try the Miracle Gel top coat!

Maybe next time, we can collaborate on something.

7-day Jamberry challenge results

As part of the Jamberry party activities, our consultant encouraged us to take on the “7-day Jamberry challenge” after receiving our Jamberry nail wrap samples. The challenge involves applying a Jamberry nail wrap to an accent nail and painting the rest of your nails with polish, then checking on the results in seven days.

Here’s day seven of last week’s nails (two coats Revlon Elusive, topped with one coat Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, on all fingers except for the ring finger, which uses a Jamberry Black & White Chevron nail wrap), with day one below it for comparison:

Truth be told, that the polished nails won out in my case is more likely a testament to the amazing Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, and maybe also that I used a sturdy glitter polish, than anything else. If I’d tried Jamberry before discovering this top coat, the results may have been much different.

Both held up pretty well, but the Jamberry definitely started showing some significant tip wear, more so than the polish. You can’t really see it in these pictures, but by the fifth day, I was having a teensy bit of lifting all along the tip of the wrap, and by the seventh day, the slightly flappy edge was starting to annoy me. For better wrapped tips, my friend Lily, who’s hosting the Jamberry party, suggested trying the flatiron method (which she said works well for her) or using a plastic bag to seal down the wrap while heating for a tighter bond at the nail tips. Our Jamberry consultant, Katie, also suggested that filing away the worn tip could allow for a few more days of wear. I haven’t tried either of these methods myself, but if I try Jamberry wraps again, I may give them a shot.

Interestingly enough, the little bubble on the side really didn’t detract from the durability of the wrap at all, and I had no lifting issues from that edge. It was mostly just the tip that wore away, which seems like reasonable wear and tear to me, especially given that my nails typically take a pretty good beating. In fact, one thumb and one pinky (not pictured) had noticeably chipped polish, again from emphatic piano playing, so the lacquered nails didn’t remain wholly unscathed, either.

Day seven (top) versus day one again (bottom), from another angle, to better examine tip wear:

As for removal of the Jamberry wrap, I was actually able to very gently and gradually peel off the entire wrap without soaking in hot water or oil and without any nail damage whatsoever – easy! After a week, the wrap was still on reasonably securely, but I think it was on its way to being ready to come off, so that worked out nicely in my case. (The recommended method is soaking in oil (e.g., vegetable oil) and gradually peeling the wrap away with a dental flosser.)

For now, I may just stick to my beloved lacquer. The nail wraps are definitely fun in their own way, but the act of painting is so soothing to me and way more cost effective that it’s hard to talk myself into making the extra $15 investment per Jamberry sheet.

Have any of you tried Jamberry, and what do you think of them?